by erin stewart -1244

25 Herbs to Plant in Autumn

With fall fast approaching, I’ve been spending a lot of time getting the garden ready for the season; planting out fall-sown seeds for veggies and herbs and flowers and cleaning up things that are starting to go dormant or die back. Fall is my favorite time of year and after a busy spring and summer, I always look forward to the promise of the restful days ahead. 

As I was making my list of seeds I need to get in the ground in the next couple weeks, I thought it might be useful to share part of it with you in case you’d like to plan for your own garden too! There are so many herbs that need a period of cold stratification in order to germinate in the spring and I’ve found that the easiest way to stratify them for me is to just direct sow them where I want them to grow next year.

You can also stratify seeds in the refrigerator, but it’s just so much easier to let nature do the work instead. I’ve found that my germination rates when I direct sow seeds outdoors are just as good as if I had stratified them in the refrigerator, so it’s my go-to method of stratification now.

Here are 25 herbs you can direct sow in your garden now for germination in the spring.

Echinacea

Angustifolias, purpureas and ornamental cultivars can all be sown in flats outdoors or direct sown now for spring germination.

Violets

I’m admittedly violet obsessed. I think I scattered at least 18 packets of seed throughout my raised beds last winter so that they would come up all over the place as a living ground cover between plants. Whether you love them as much as I do or just want to have a few in a certain area of your garden, now is a good time to sow their seeds for spring germination.

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Elderberries

Elderberries can be direct sown into a part of the garden where you’d like them to come up next year. If you live in an area with a wet winter, you can even sow the dried berries and let the rain water soak them. If you have dry winters, though, you’ll want to soak the berries for a day (or overnight) before sowing.

Chives

Chives like to grow in parts of the garden that get a lot of water throughout the growing season. I like to spread chive seeds along the very edges of my raised beds to help deter harmful pests from my other herbs + veggies in spring and summer.

Rosemary

Sow seeds in flats or directly where you’d like them to grow in spring. You can also take cuttings and root them in a greenhouse or a warm, sunny windowsill until they’re ready to plant out in spring.

Lady's Mantle

I like to grow this sweet plant in a shady spot in the garden. She seems to do much better there than in full sun areas. Direct sow seeds now for spring germination.

Milkweed

All varieties can be direct sown or sown in flats now for spring germination. Try growing the swan plant variety! It’s my favorite.

St. John's Wort

Scatter seeds in your garden now for spring germination. Some states do not permit growing this plant because it’s on their noxious weed lists, so make sure to check your local laws before sowing. (You’ll be able to tell – if seed companies won’t ship it to your state, you probably can’t grow it there.)

Mullein

Common mullein, Greek mullein and ornamental mulleins can all be direct sown now for germination in late winter to early spring.

Lavender

Lavender can be direct sown or sown in flats. Seeds are not true to the parent plants, so if you’re hoping for a specific variety, it’s better to source a rooted cutting or a mature plant from a grower. If you’re not picky, though, try growing some from seed.

Comfrey

Fall is a great time to plant roots and rhizomes of plants. Our woodland medicinals are good examples of these, but comfrey is also an excellent choice. Make sure you give it plenty of space because these plants grow wide and are prone to spreading.

Astragalus

Astragalus likes full sun and needs a little extra boost when it’s getting started, so sow accordingly and make sure to use some liquid seaweed concentrate when you water in the seeds.

California Poppy

California poppies were my state flower growing up, and I still love finding them growing wild. They’re a delight in the garden, too and now is a great time to scatter their seeds.

Horehound

Horehound is such a low maintenance plant. Sow the seeds in a dry-ish part of the garden where the plants will receive full sun and you’ll hardly have to tend to them at all throughout the season.

Fennel

This is a pollinator favorite in our garden. While you can sow the seeds in early spring, you can also sow them now where you’d like them to come up in the spring.

Catnip and Catmints

Catmints are always buzzing with pollinators and the catnip attracts our neighbor’s furry friends as well. Sow it in a part of the garden where your other plants won’t be bothered if your neighborhood felines find it.

Motherwort

They can be a little bit slow to get started, but sowing the seeds in the fall has been more successful than spring sowing for me. Sow in peat pots and graduate up as they grow or direct sow where you’d like them to grow.

Feverfew

If you’re already growing feverfew, it’s likely that volunteers will sprout up where they’d like to grow in your garden so you may not even need to plant more. Sow seeds for this pretty evergreenon the surface of the soil – don’t cover them – as they need light to sprout.

Hyssop

Hyssop seeds might benefit from a quick scarification prior to planting. Sow directly where you’d like them to grow or in flats to transplant out in spring.

Self Heal

Sow seeds underneath taller plants and your self heal will happily come up and keep your soil covered throughout the growing season. This plant also likes to grow in the lawn, so if you’re cultivating an herbal lawn, scatter some seeds throughout.

Red Clover

Often co-planted with oats, red clover can also be grown on its own. Scatter seeds where you’d like them to grow. The seedlings will keep the soil covered in late winter and early spring before anything else has really started to grow yet. Can be mowed under in spring before planting out your spring garden or can be left to flower in the summer.

Marshmallow

Marshmallow is like the teddy bear of the garden. She has the sweetest blooms and her foliage is so unbelievably soft. Sow seeds in spring or in flats in fall. Scarify with sandpaper or freshly boiled water to increase germination rates.

Yarrow

Direct sow yarrow now to see seedlings coming up before spring. Fall-sown yarrow will often flower in the spring or summer of its first year of life. Late fall is also a great time to divide existing plants.

Garlic

Fall-sown garlic can be planted and mulched now for a spring to summer harvest next year. I like to plant garlic along the edges of my other raised beds to deter harmful pests from my herbs and veggies throughout the growing seasons.

Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus seeds can be slow to get going, but sowing them now in peat pots and protecting them from hard freezes will encourage healthy sprouts in the spring.

What would you add to this list?

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bio-photo-18

Erin Stewart is an herbalist, NAHA certified aromatherapist, organic gardener and urban homesteader. She grows over 70 kinds of aromatic and medicinal plants for her own apothecary and distills essential oils and hydrosols in her PNW garden. Erin is the founder of Floranella and of AromaCulture’s herbalism + aromatherapy magazine.

Want to learn more about herbalism and aromatherapy?

AromaCulture Magazine is filled with educational articles, case studies and recipes written by practicing herbalists and certified aromatherapists. New issues are published each month and issues are available individually or via subscription. Visit www.aromaculture.com for more information.

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5 thoughts on “25 Herbs to Plant in Autumn”

  1. noriko angeleen

    so beautiful, I will put a herbal garden on my vision board to manifest it =D Thank you!

  2. Charity Pitton

    Can you sow chamomile in the fall? I heard someone mention that once, and I’ve never tried it – but I haven’t gotten good germination with spring plantings either!

    1. Erin Stewart

      I haven’t tried fall-sowing German chamomile yet, but Jon and I were talking about sowing some this week to see if we could get a fall crop of it before the frosts start. I’ll have to let you know how it goes. Roman chamomile is a perennial that could be sown in the fall for sure.

  3. Sue Ridley

    Arnica. What conditions does it like the soil to have. Full sun? Drought tolerant?

    1. Erin Stewart

      Yes, full sun. I wouldn’t say that it’s drought tolerant since it tends to prefer moist soil.

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